Catholic midwives cannot exercise conscience on abortion
Breaking News: Court of Session in Edinburgh rules that Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board is not infringing on midwives' human rights by not allowing them to conscientiously object to a supervisory role. Full report in this week's SCO
The Court of Session in Edinburgh has ruled that midwives can be forced to supervise the carrying out of abortions.
Judge Lady Smith today rejected the case brought by Catholic midwives Mary Doogan, 57, and Concepta Wood, 51, who hold supervisory positions in the labour ward of Glasgow’s Southern General Hospital. The women claimed that being made to oversee staff involved in abortions was a breach of their human rights.
In her ruling, Lady Smith said the 1967 Abortion Act allowed only qualified conscientious objection, and that the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights in relation to freedom of conscience and religion were not absolute.
Miss Doogan said she and Mrs Wood were ‘very disappointed’ with the verdict, which she said would have ‘very grave consequences for anyone of conscience who wishes to choose midwifery as a career.’
In her judgement, Lady Smith said the two midwives were ‘protected from having any direct involvement with the procedure to which they object.’
“Nothing they have to do as part of their duties terminates a woman’s pregnancy,” she said. “They are sufficiently removed from direct involvement as, it seems to me, to afford appropriate respect for and accommodation of their beliefs.”
John Deighan, the Scottish bishops’ parliamentary officer, said the judgement ‘should be very concerning to all of society.’
“We will need to look at this ruling very closely,” he said.